CAMPAIGNING groups that tackle issues faced by the over-50s have added to growing anger over bank closures.
In the circulation area covered by the Chronicle alone four banks in less than a year have, or are about to, pull down their shutters permanently.
First to go was the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in Dalmellington, which prompted massive public outcry and street protests before it closed in August last year.
Next to shut up shop was Clydesdale Bank in Cumnock at the start of this year, part of a massive cull of 79 branches in the group, which includes Yorkshire Bank.
Finally, RBS and Nat West announced 158 branch closures, which included Cumnock and Mauchline, a decision which has provoked more fury.
Over the past two years, 1,046 branches across the UK have been shut by the country’s major high street banks with customers in their 50s, and older, suffering most.
After it emerged that a disabled customer in Dalmellington could not access the replacement mobile service, leading charity Age Scotland spoke out.
Their chief executive Keith Robson said: “As banks have closed local branches they have cut off people who are not able to use internet banking. To then make the mobile bank vans inaccessible to people with mobility issues is a further step away from their claim to be Scotland’s most helpful bank.”
Cumnock’s MSP Jeane Freeman backed the call, adding: “The ongoing bank closures in my constituency mean that it will be more difficult for older and frail customers to use the banking services they need.”
Meanwhile a survey carried out by SAGA, a company exclusively for the over-50s, revealed that one in five people of that generation rely on access to a local branch because they don’t bank online.
Almost a third — 31 per cent — said their next closest branch would be too far to travel, which in most cases is Ayr, while Kilmarnock is nearest for Mauchline customers.
People in their 80s felt that a local branch closure would have the most impact on them with almost half saying that most financial transactions would become impossible for them.
Lisa Harris of Saga said: “It is clear that access to a local high street bank is important for the over 50s, particularly for the older generations who are less likely to bank online and more likely to find it difficult to travel further afield.
“Many over 50s will have held an account with the same bank for a number of years and will find the switching process stressful. More needs to be done by the banks to ensure they maintain a high street presence, particularly for their loyal customers.”